Niagara University has announced a restructuring of its athletics program that includes the addition of women’s track and field and the elimination of women’s hockey.

“Niagara University has a proud history of competition in the NCAA and any change to our programs are taken very seriously and reviewed completely – today’s announcement is no exception,” said Niagara chairman of the board Jeff Holzschuh in a statement. “We understand the disappointment for these young ladies, their families, the coaches and the fans of women’s ice hockey. We will always be very proud of all of the young women who have competed as Purple Eagles on the ice for Niagara University.”

The contraction of women’s hockey affects 20 current players. The student-athletes who choose to continue their undergraduate education at Niagara will receive their athletic scholarships for a period equal to their remaining eligibility. The athletic department will grant immediate releases to student-athletes who choose to transfer and compete for another university.

The restructuring results in the elimination of three full-time coaching positions from the women’s hockey program and the addition of four full-time coaching positions in women’s lacrosse and track.

The university will sponsor 18 teams at the NCAA Division I level after the changes. All but one sport (men’s hockey in Atlantic Hockey) competes in the MAAC.

  • Mtkrom

    Sad to see a strong women’s ice hockey program put on the back burner  while the number of girls registered with USA hockey keeps on growing and the wny area has 5 teams heading to either the Tier I or Tier II National Championships this April.  

  • Jack Saviola


    The University’s statement makes reference to the need for athletic programs to “serve as a marketing and enrollment tool for the university.” 

    In upstate New York, and with a significant Canadian student base already, hockey certainly serves that mission far better than lacrosse or track and field will. Niagara has allowed the leadership of the MAAC to make it’s decision, without concern for the university community or it’s current athletes.

    Considering that the university has already downgraded it’s men’s hockey program with the decision to join the “minor league” Atlantic Hockey Association, can that progam’s future be considered secure?

    The old boys who fund NU sports have always been unrealistically committed to a men’s basketball program that will never be capable of competing on the national scene. Title IX then dictates over funding of a women’s basketball program that loses it’s games in a consistently empty arena. Sports with strong potential for growth like hockey and soccer are under funded, under recruited, and under promoted. 

    It’s a shame that the university’s recent academic and philanthropic gains cannot be matched by a similar upswing in it’s athletics.
    Jack Saviola, NU class of ’78

    • ritalum

      As a fan of a “minor league” team, I’ll have you know that despite the prime location of schools like Niagara and Canisius, they really don’t have a following. Of the 2000+ fans watching the conference semi-final between RIT and Niagara, less than 50 of the fans were for Niagara. That’s pretty sad considering how close they were to the NCAA playoffs and the game was only an hour away in Rochester.

  • Snipercohan23

    If D1 hockey didn’t give Free Rides players would still pay tuition to attend the schools they are going to.  The state college hockey is in is a joke.  That now Boys and Girls need to do postgraduate years like Jr. Hockey in order to play either NCAA div. 1 or Div. 3 college hockey is a complete embarrassent to college athletics.  The NCAA, College Inc., USA Hockey  should be ashamed of themselves as nowhere in college sports can a kid play for so long without losing eligibility. It has made tons of money for USA Hockey and Jr. Coaches every where.   

  • Hocsoc

    It’s a poor decision, and has always been and under advertised sport. as a player who has grown up in the area I can attest to the fact that women’s hockey his grown leaps and bounds in the last 15 years. This can be seen simply by looking at the number of youth girls programs that have popped up We had used to have to travel to Canada or Syracuse now there’s at least four within 45 minutes of niagara’s complex….